It should be no surprise that veal is one of the cardinal sins of vegan philosophy . For others, myself included, veal is among the tenderest and most prized meats on the market around the world. Noted vegan hater Anthony Bourdain writes romantically, “Veal is prized largely for its tender, subtle-tasting cutlets, or scaloppini’s, its rib chops, loin and for the paillards off its legs. But veal is so much more” . I am not throwing my hat into this ring, not because I am unconfrontational, but rather because my needs are materialistically rooted in pleasure and not in the politics of food. But I think in the case of veal, it is important to note the controversy exists. Historically speaking, veal dates to the oldest of human civilizations: the Sumerians . Its meat was prized as a luxury, and over the centuries it has enjoyed a reputation for canonical dishes in most European and Middle Eastern societies: I’m talking Karađorđeva šnicla, Ossobucco, Veal Orloff, Veal Piccata, Veal Saltimbocca, Weiner Schnitzel…you get the picture.
In Daniel Akst’s St. Burl’s Obituary, veal-ing and revealing play a central role in the novel’s exploration of consumption, identity, and death. At one of the plot’s pivotal moments, Burl (having assumed a new identity) experiences immense anxiety at being revealed by an old chef friend, Frederic. Among the backdrop Frederic reluctantly demonstrates a veal dish for an adoring public crowd:
“Meanwhile, we have our veal over here, our mushrooms porcini, our sherry, our cream ready to go, everything mis en place, as we say…”
This is as much as the book says about the dish, but the best preparation available involves pan roasting a bone-in veal chop, and topping it with a shiitake mushroom-cream sauce with fresh thyme and whole peppercorns.
Here’s What You’ll Need
For the Veal:
- 2 Bone-in Veal Chops, (1lb or 500g each)
- ¼ Cup and 2 Divided Tbsp EVOO
- 1 Divided Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 Tsp Each Salt and Pepper
- 2 Sprigs Thyme, for Garnish
For the Sauce:
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 1/3 Cup Shallots, Minced
- 7 Oz (200 g) Shiitake Mushroom
- 1/3 Cup Sherry
- 1/3 Cup Water (or Beef Stock)
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 3 Sprigs Thyme
- 1 Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
Here’s What You’ll Do
- Let your veal sit outside of the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until it reaches room temperature. Combine ¼ Cup EVOO, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper in a one-gallon resealable bag. Add the veal chops and shake. Allow to marinate for 1-4 hours.
- While the veal is marinating, heat butter in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for two minutes, or until the shallots are translucent.
- Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for five minutes, until the mushrooms are golden brown and their water has evaporated.
- Transfer mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside. Deglaze the saucepan with sherry, scraping the brown bits from the pan, and add water. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half.
- Add cream, thyme, and peppercorns to the pan and bring to a simmer. Then return the mushrooms to the pan. Simmer until the flavors are unified and the sauce has a thick and even texture.
- Heat large (12-inch or 25 cm) sauté pan on high heat. Coat with butter and olive oil until butter is brown. Cook the veal chops one at a time, and baste while they roast.
- Note: cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chop; I asked the butcher to slice mine thin (a little less than 1/2 inch or 1 cm), and sautéed the veal for 90 seconds on each side.
- Allow to rest, top with the mushroom cream sauce, garnish with thyme, and serve.
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